Phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2α (eIF2α) is a common cellular mechanism to limit protein synthesis in stress conditions. Baculovirus PK2, which resembles the C-terminal half of a protein kinase domain, was found to inhibit both human and yeast eIF2α kinases. Insect cells infected with wild-type, but not pk2-deleted, baculovirus exhibited reduced eIF2α phosphorylation and increased translational activity. The negative regulatory effect of human protein kinase RNA-regulated (PKR), an eIF2α kinase, on virus production was counteracted by PK2, indicating that baculoviruses have evolved a unique strategy for disrupting a host stress response. PK2 was found in complex with PKR and blocked kinase autophosphorylation in vivo, suggesting a mechanism of kinase inhibition mediated by interaction between truncated and intact kinase domains
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